This turned out to be an unexpected reading week for me as I knocked out four books between Monday and tonight. However, I worked a lot this week and was just too damn tired to log everything when I was finished so I’m dropping it all here.
The Herd 3 stars
I gave Andrea Bartz’s debut a weak 4-stars as I graded it on the new author curve. It was a fun New York tale but I feel like it could have been better. I was hoping she’d make some tweaks to her style but in this one, the characters are even thinner and so is the plot. The dialogue felt like someone working too hard to speak millennial. I was engrossed halfway through and bored for most of the climax (the killer was pretty obvious and the red herrings annoyed). Also, even though I’m a sucker for New York tales, this was far less New York-ish than her first book. Still, she does write with verve and both books have entertained so I don’t think I’ll give up on her.
Cross to Bear 4 stars
I picked up this one after listening to Slate’s Slow Burn podcast, which covered David Duke this past season. A recap of the 1991 Governor’s race, aka “the race from hell”, Maginnis does a great job breaking down the particulars of the race and the outlandish history of New Orleans politics. He also foreshadows Donald Trump’s wise in many and various ways through his coverage of David Duke’s candidacy. This is a tough book to get ahold of but it’s worth it if it’s available at your library or you come across it used. It gave me a better picture of the nuances of Louisiana politics and how a people can fall sway to a racist demagogue.
Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump 4 stars
And speaking of the President…
I had no interest in picking this one up but a friend of mine whose recommendations I trust suggested it to me from a suggestion they got from their spouse. I grabbed it and was glad I did as it’s a quick read but a focused one. Kendzior doesn’t cover a lot of new ground but she does use her expertise on central Asian authoritarianism in post-Soviet states to draw parallels for how it happened here. At times, her analysis is surface-level but more often than not, she examines the perfect storm that led to Trump in ways that enlightened me or made me think differently. I’ll have to check out her podcast.
Quarry’s List 4 stars
My review of the first Quarry book last month, including some comments I made on the author, drew said author’s ire (Hi Max if you’re reading this!). I don’t think I’ve ever been on the receiving end of that. I stand by what I said last month and what I’ll say now: these are entertaining crime novels. Like their protagonist, they get in, do the job, and get out without leaving a fuss. And I appreciate how they’re steeped in a 70s worldview, with the whole country just deciding to give up on everything. I’m really looking forward to perusing the rest of the series. It’ll probably be a semi-regular for my monthly Hard Case Crime read.